On Thursday morning, passengers on Spirit Airlines Flight 1064 fled Pittsburgh International Airport for white sand beaches, 80-degree weather and clear, blue Caribbean waters.
Who can blame them?
The 9:12 a.m. departure on a 145-seat A319 aircraft marked Spirit’s launch of seasonal, nonstop service between PIT and Cancun, Mexico.
Ron Smith, of Pittsburgh’s North Hills, booked the trip with his wife and friends in late November.
“I had just gotten my passport and said, ‘Come on, let’s go somewhere right now,’” said Smith. “We’re from Pittsburgh – you can see the weather out there. I’m so excited to be going to Mexico, I can’t help myself.”
Ron Smith sits at the gate waiting to board Spirit Airlines’ inaugural flight from Pittsburgh to Cancun. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)
A handful of passengers on the inaugural flight said they lived more than two hours from the airport but chose to fly on Spirit’s nonstop to Cancun for its affordability and convenience.
Morgan West and Raelyn Dailey, of Marietta, Ohio, chose to fly out of Pittsburgh instead of Columbus, Ohio, specifically for the lower fares on Spirit.
“It was very spur of the moment,” said West, adding that they booked the trip about two weeks ago.
To avoid checking a bag and paying extra fees, the two friends each bought carry-on backpacks that were specially designed to fit all of their items.
“That’s all we’re taking for three nights,” said West. “We got an all-inclusive [resort] and are just going to relax and not think about anything.”
Morgan West (left) and Raelyn Dailey of Marietta, Ohio, pose for a photo before taking off for Cancun on Thursday morning. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)
Mother and daughter Becky and Rachel Connolly of State College, Pa., were returning to Cancun for an annual family vacation.
The pair traveled almost three hours from State College to get to PIT for the flight.
“Basically, I just researched which airport had a nonstop flight,” said Becky Connolly.
The Connollys plan to spend two weeks in Cancun.
“We’ll probably go to some of the beach clubs that are down there and we usually take a boat ride and go fishing,” she said. “Last year, we caught a lot of Barracuda down there.”
Mother and daughter Becky (left) and Rachel Connolly of State College, Pa., travel to Cancun annually. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)
For others on the flight, plans include snorkeling and enjoying the beaches.
On an average day, about 150 people fly from Pittsburgh to Mexico. Cancun is the top destination for those travelers, with about 60,000 passengers flying to and from the coastal, southeastern Mexican city each year.
Spirit’s nonstop to Cancun International Airport complements existing seasonal service from Pittsburgh on Delta, Vacation Express and Southwest Airlines. Additionally, Apple Vacations offers year-round service between PIT and CUN, up to three times weekly.
That adds up to more than 1,000 nonstop seats each week for flights this summer.
Spirit is scheduled to operate the approximately four-hour flight on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Other top destinations for travelers heading from Pittsburgh to Mexico are Cabo and Mexico City. This summer, new seasonal service from PIT to Los Cabos International Airport is scheduled to begin July 5 on Vacation Express.
See more photos of the gate event celebration for Spirit’s inaugural flight to Cancun from Pittsburgh here.